The Brown Institute welcomes four new members!

The Brown Institute is pleased to announce four new staff members, who share a passion for exploring the interplay between technology and journalism, between technology and media. They will help shape the direction of work at Brown, bringing new ideas and new collaborators to the institute. These hires will be based at the Brown Institute at Columbia University.

Our two Impact Fellows, Katie Watson and Todd Whitney, bring unique perspectives and skill sets to our work in computational journalism. Katie comes to the institute after stints with Disney Research and the New York Times R&D Lab. With a background in computer graphics and the arts, her current research interests include image synthesis, web-based real-time rendering and 3D reconstruction. She is drawn to the puzzle of finding methods of interpreting sparse or noisy “in-the-wild” datasets. Todd joins us from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. He has produced radio for NPR, hosted podcasts for Microsoft, and taught classes on longform narrative audio. Todd’s research focuses on citizenship, technology and cultural expression of people of color. His recent work, supported by The Citizen Lab, examines the surveillance techniques police deploy to monitor rappers. 

Our new Program Coordinator, Julia Eshaghpour, has a wealth of experience in project management and coordination, ensuring that our work runs smoothly and effectively. Julia comes to us from the Time-based Media Art Conservation program at NYU, and has managed projects for artists Gabriela Salazar, Diana Al-Hadid, and most recently, Maren Hassinger.

Finally, our new Director of Creative Research, Eric Chen, has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and a PhD in Psychology and Social Behavior. He spent five years with Meta as part of their Civic Integrity and News Feed Integrity teams, addressing offline harms faced by vulnerable communities in the Global South and working extensively on mitigating platform risks during elections and wars and violent conflicts. Eric will play a vital role in advancing this work while in residence at the institute, through his own research and through our grant-funded projects focused on these problems. In 2022-23 alone, the institute has provided grants to teams focused on building a tool to fight online hate and harassment directed towards journalists and work exploring the spread of misinformation on encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp. 

We are excited to see the impact that Todd, Katie, Julia and Eric will have on our institute and look forward to their contributions as we work to shape the future of journalism and technology.